Jane and Michael Stern's Encyclopedia of Pop Culture: An A to Z Guide of Who's Who and What's What, from Aerobics and Bubble Gum to Valley of the Doll

Jane Stern, Author, Michael Stern, With
Jane Stern, Author, Michael Stern, With Harper Perennial $35 (593p) ISBN 978-0-06-055343-2
Reviewed on: 11/02/1992
Release date: 11/01/1992
Paperback - 593 pages - 978-0-06-096972-1
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America's pop culture mavens present an entertaining if arbitrary compendium of more than 200 people, objects and phenomena that have entered the collective consciousness since WW II. As with their Encyclopedia of Bad Taste, the Sterns' entries here are sprightly but substantial: they delineate the differences between Oprah! and Geraldo , note that regional tastes predominate in hot dogs but not in hamburgers, and offer conflicting explanations of the murky lyrics to ``Louie, Louie.'' However, the Sterns' ambitious title may frustrate those readers who seek a more comprehensive work. First, the book is skewed toward older baby-boomers (for example, there's an entry on Mickey Mantle but none on Michael Jordan). Second, its entries on ephemeral figures like fat man Walter Hudson and ``Where's the Beef?'' huckster Clara Peller seem better suited to the authors' previous encyclopedia. And the Sterns' choices are debatable: the microwave oven but not the Walkman? The Beach Boys but not Led Zeppelin? ``Peanuts'' but not ``Doonesbury''? Still, for anyone who wants to remember pet rocks, pop rocks and pop-tarts--and many more cultural artifacts--this volume is eminently browse-able. Photos. $80,000 ad/promo; author tour. (Nov.)
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